Australian grappling ace Craig Jones didn’t have much of an audience at Submission Underground 12, but it didn’t matter.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and decorated grappling champion tapped out UFC and Bellator veteran — and Rickson Gracie black belt — Kevin Casey with a heel hook at the 2:40 mark of regulation, earning a verbal submission from his opponent.
Due to coronavirus concerns, Submission Underground 12 took place behind closed doors at a facility formerly used as a grain silo in Portland. That wasn’t all in terms of precautions: Only one cameraman was allowed in the venue, and Chael Sonnen, the founder of SUG, served as a commentator via UFC Fight Pass from a remote location outside the venue. Additionally, the cage was sanitized in between matches.
“I’m getting way too much credit for this,” Sonnen told UFC.com prior to the event. “We had this on the calendar. A deal is a deal and we said we were moving forward and there’s a lot of people involved with this. People who have trained, people who have goals, people who, in all fairness, need to make a living. Not just the athletes, either; we’re talking production and everything. There’s just a lot of dominoes and if you say you’re going to do something in this space, you do it.”
In the co-main event, Ben Egli threatened with multiple submissions before eliciting a tapout from retired UFC veteran Jake Ellenberger at the 3:30 mark of their match. Egli, an Oregon based mixed martial artist with an 11-3 mark, attacked with a guillotine choke and a triangle before submitting his opponent with an americana.
Egli was a replacement for Carlos Condit, who dropped out of the event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. UFC talent Roxanne Modafferi also pulled out of the event ahead of time. “Roxanne was very sweet about it,” Sonnen said. “She did everything in her power but said simply, ‘I just don’t want to get on an airplane right now.’ Which, full respect to. Carlos Condit wanted to come, but he called me and said, ‘I’ve got no training partners.’ I guess the gym kind of dried up. Jake Ellenberger is a hard match, they fought one time and it was a razor close decision on short notice.”